1. Start early
This may seem like common sense and something you can put off, but please do not! If you’ve ever moved before you will know that you always have more things than you think you do, so the process will take longer than you think it will. Start with things you know you won’t need for the next few months. If it’s spring and you know you’re moving before fall, start packing up your winter clothes ahead of time.
Starting early is also good for sentimental items. Going through your things once you may get rid of a few items here and there, but if you allow enough time to go through things several times, you’ll find by the third round you actually don’t need to hold onto that set of knives you’ve never opened.
2. Inventory one room at a time
To downsize, especially into a smaller space, you’ll need to go through your belongings and decide what to keep, toss, sell and give away. Because this can be an overwhelming task, don’t try and take everything on at once. Pick an afternoon that you’re free, get your boxes, label maker, and trash bags ready and start sorting one room at a time.
3. Remember, things are just things
For many of us (I know I fall into this bucket) getting rid of items can be difficult. Yes, I may not use it anymore, but with so many memories attached it can be impossible to give up.
One way to help part from objects you are attached to is to give them to someone you care for. My mom’s jewelry I never wear serve as excellent gifts for my nieces. Kitchen appliances I never even opened are perfect for my employee moving into her first apartment. While it can still be hard to hand items over, knowing they are going to good homes and will bring people joy can help loosen your grasp.
It’s important to be brutally honest with yourself during this time. Often we hold onto things out of hope. We keep clothes that don’t fit out of hope we’ll lose the weight. But if you’re honest with yourself, how long have you told yourself that while those clothes sit unused in your closest? We keep an old watch telling ourselves we’re going to replace the battery, yet we haven’t taken it to the store in 2 years. Go through items one item at a time and be brutally honest with yourself on whether on not it’s bringing you joy, or more drama.
4. Put all like items together
Once you’ve narrowed down your keep pile, sort through everything and put all the similar items together. By doing so, you may find you have unnecessary duplicates of things. Do you really need five whisks? Are people coming over that often that you need that many glasses? Could both jars of basil be combined into one?
5. Feeling overwhelmed? Know you can hire help
Sometimes no matter how early you start, how many boxes you’ve gone through, you may find it’s all just too much. Remember there is no shame in hiring outside help.
This may be in the form of professional packers, movers or even hiring a senior moving manager. Options like this can also be helpful if you feel like you’ve been positioned as “the bad guy” when you’re just trying to help.